Digital transformation: More than just an implementation
by Felix Hemmerling| January 6, 2020
For some, it is still just a trend or a necessary evil that boils down to long developments and heavy investments. For others, it is, above all, a commitment motivated by high expectations in terms of operational excellence, quality, productivity gains and competitiveness while riding the digital wave.
This term so often perceived as describing everything and nothing at the same time is more than just a buzzword — it is a key pillar in the development of organisations to achieve greater internal efficiency, to ensure higher quality when building relationships with partners by delivering increased customer value, and more. For many organisations, especially those most affected by this year’s pandemic, it has even become an essential tool in order to survive.
Organisations have been forced to understand why they need to take this topic seriously — not in a year or a few months time, but right now.
If the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything about digital transformation, it is the fact that organisations have been forced to understand why they need to take this topic seriously — not in a year or a few months time, but right now. Covid-19 suddenly made organisations around the world realise that their digital strategies represent an essential factor to achieve both their short and long term objectives and guarantee their sustainability, or even, for some, to survive.
Some credit must be given to the numerous organisations that were already driving change, innovation and digital transformation before our economy was heavily affected by the pandemic.
Nevertheless, while much of this sweeping acceleration stems from this year’s pandemic, some credit must be given to the numerous organisations that were already driving change, innovation and digital transformation before our economy was heavily affected by the pandemic. While all of the ongoing restrictions have prompted companies to switch towards a more digital world, it is safe to say that many of them have been able to adapt quickly. While we could observe that some sectors have been more or less responsive when it comes to executing digital transformation strategies, many of them had made considerable efforts long before Covid-19. Examples are numerous and include, but are not limited to, the medical industry (e.g. the multiple innovations seen in healthtech), real estate (e.g. proptech) and education (e.g. edtech) — to name just a few areas in which leaders have taken decisive action for the digital switchover.
When discussing digital transformation in the broad sense, we must avoid reducing the objectives to the implementation of new technological solutions in order to achieve better efficiency and better quality. While many sophisticated solutions promise to solve a great number of an organisation’s issues, decision-makers need to promote the use of high quality solutions and avoid falling into the “shiny new toys” trap. This requires decision makers to understand how these new solutions rapidly address critical issues for the development of their organisation.
Some organisations have failed with their digital strategies by replacing inefficient manual workflows with equally inefficient digital workflows.
Whether it’s replacing long, inefficient manual workflows or processes with shorter, smoother digital flows, or implementing automated processes which aim to replace repetitive manual tasks, these are exactly the kinds of objectives which must be at the heart of decision-makers’ reflections in the implementation of their digital transformation endeavours. However, some organisations have failed with their digital transformation strategies by replacing inefficient manual workflows with equally inefficient digital workflows. This results in a waste of time, money and, of course, competitiveness.
In other words, leaders should proceed to “reverse engineering”, that is to say, first identify the issues specific to their organisation rather than implementing ready made solutions which are not suited for their business model. I am convinced that the search for digital solutions can, in some cases, give rise to the identification of critical internal organisational problems. The duty of the decision-maker is to understand and accept the weaknesses of her organisation. The implementation of a tailor-made and ambitious solution represents an important piece on the road of an organisation’s success. Decision makers must therefore differentiate between implementing nice-to-have microsolutions which mainly serve as an accessory, and deeper reflections about optimising the quality and efficiency of their organisation.
Leaders must trust their teams in order to make informed decisions. This involves questioning the management models of the past.
Felix Hemmerling, 2021
My conviction is that leaders must trust their teams in order to make informed decisions. I therefore invite managers and decision-makers to listen to their employees, to take the time to analyse their organisation in depth and to develop a corporate culture that leaves room for sharing knowledge, for ideas to emerge and to discuss solutions and visions of the future. Obviously, this involves questioning the management models of the past.
So, let’s invite them to get our surfboards and ride this digital wave together.
Digital transformation projects driven by a clear and shared vision, which is based on the wealth of resources and their skills, represent an important turning point for any organisation so as to unite and motivate employees around common values.
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